London Fashion Week is traditionally seen as having the upper hand over New York, Paris and Milan in terms of how forward-thinking, fresh and cutting edge it is.
This might be so, but it’s sadly not leading the charge when it comes to diversity. According to the Fashion Spot, last season New York Fashion Week came in top with 37.3% of models being people of colour, while London was at 34.8% (let’s not even talk about the dire statistics of Paris and Milan which came in at 31.1% and 27.1% respectively).
The UK’s capital might be host to some of the most exciting designers and trends, but it’s still got some work to do to equal (and then better) New York. Luckily, it’s not all bad – here are some of the designers who will be showing at London Fashion Week who aren’t totally terrible for diversity, and are well worth keeping an eye on.
The Ashish show is always a sheer delight because of just how much designer Ashish Gupta adores sequins.
Gupta grew up in Delhi before moving to the UK, and diversity is front and centre of his shows. Last season he was inspired by a midnight bazaar and told the BBC at the time: “I think diversity’s really important, and I cast my shows as it is in real life. In real life you meet people who speak different languages and come from different places.”
The designer’s ethos is reflected in how he casts his shows – he once wrote in the Guardian: “We need to change that stereotypical idea of what beauty is.”
Showing September 16 at 7pm
Being half Chinese, from Ireland and living in London in the midst of Brexit means Simone Rocha has a wealth of varied inspirations to bring into her designs. She previously told Vogue: “Creatively, it makes me want to do something positive and inclusive, take each step day by day, and just be happy that I can have a voice and that I can do what I do.”
Not only are her shows ethnically diverse, but last year she did something almost unheard of during London Fashion Week and cast an older model. Rocha won huge amounts of praise for using septuagenarian Jan de Villeneuve in her show, and is hopefully paving the way for more big name brands using models that are (gasp) over the age of 25.
Showing September 16 at 6pm
Rejina Pyo only recently starting showing full catwalks at London Fashion Week instead of presentations, and is well worth keeping an eye on. The Korean-born designer got her MA at Central Saint Martins, and her feminine tailoring has become a fast favourite among fashion influencers.
From the beginning she’s been keen on furthering inclusivity, putting out a casting call last year “looking for confident, unique and inspiring women of ALL ethnicities and ALL ages”.
Pyo previously told the Evening Standard: “I have always wanted the Rejina Pyo brand to be inclusive, to be part of the daily lives of women all over the world. I wanted the show to reflect this, to celebrate my friends and other inspiring women around me.”
Showing September 17 at 9am
Central Saint Martin’s alum Matty Bovan could never be accused of being conventional. Even though he’s one of the most exciting names in fashion right now, the Yorkshire-based designer moved back into his mum’s house after graduating in 2015 to save money. He also isn’t really into mass production and tries to make everything himself – hardly characteristic of top designers.
Bovan is unique in many ways, and one of these is how diverse the models in his shows are. It’s not like Bovan’s filling a quota or patting himself on the back for inclusive casting – he’s just reflecting the world around him. And who wouldn’t want Winnie Harlow opening your fashion show?
Showing September 14 at 6pm
- Press Association